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  1. 6/21/2013 HELP YOUR TREES SURVIVE THE DROUGHT
  2. The drought of 2012/2013 has taken a toll on plants across the country, devastating crops, wreaking havoc on landscaping and ruining lawns.
     
    While you might be worried about your grass turning brown or flowers wilting, there’s one thing that you definitely shouldn’t overlook - your trees.
     
    Like all plants, trees require a consistent supply of water, but when they’re under prolonged exposure to drought conditions, they can suffer irreversible damage. A professional tree service can assess the health of your trees and look for drought-related stress. Many tree service companies employ a certified arborist, which is a professional who specializes in the cultivation and management of trees and other woody plants.
     
    Signs of stress
     
    “Drought stress on mature trees includes wilting or yellow foliage, brown scorched areas on leaves, premature leaf drop, limb dieback and overall thinning of the canopy,” says Paul Goin, a certified arborist and owner of highly rated Tree Pros in Denver. “Conifers will show signs of drought by the needles, browning from the outside inward.”
     
    Wesley Kocher of the International Society of Arboriculture says the most obvious sign of drought stress is defoliation - when trees shed their leaves. “The tree takes water up through its roots and brings it to the leaf, and then the leaf evaporates water off into the air,” he says. “If the tree doesn’t have the energy to sustain the leaf anymore, it will drop the leaf. It’s like a coping mechanism for the tree.”
     
    The drought is affecting all types of trees, but young trees have it the worst due to the fact that new trees have less roots established and are hit harder by drought. “Mature trees have been able to develop more extensive root systems, and therefore are able to obtain water from sources underground,” Goin says. “Newly planted or young trees require more attention during drought.”
     
    Kocher says trees are at the greatest risk of dying during the first two to three years after being transplanted to the ground. “That’s when you really want to pay attention to the watering and to the stresses of the tree," he says.
     
    Watering tips
     
    Water conservation should be exercised during a drought, so watering directly with a hose or 5-gallon bucket rather than a sprinkler will help ensure the water is going to the tree and not your sidewalk or driveway. You should focus watering on the drip line, which is the area on the ground directly under the tree canopy where feeder roots collect moisture.
     
    “You want to make sure the water is reaching the tree roots and you’re doing a deep soak, not just lightly watering the top of the soil,” Kocher says. “Make sure it’s soaked through the first foot of soil, that’s where a majority of tree roots are.”
     
    Arborists recommend watering young trees twice per week and mature trees once per week. Mature trees require the equivalent of 1 to 1.5 inches of rain per week during the growing season.
     
    Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) has produced an informative video, Protecting Your Trees In A Drought, that provides additional tips on how to care for your trees during drought.